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The revelation of so dreadful a judgment about to fall on the ungodly must have astonished and terrified the patriarch. The safety of himself and his family was provided for; but could he reflect on the dreadful end which awaited all who dwelt near him or in distant lands, all whom he knew, all of whose existence he had any idea, all who wore the same form with himself, without being subdued with pity for their wretchedness? that they were guilty he well knew; that the judgment of God was just he could not deny; but the good man feels no ordinary sorrow when the wicked are punished, let their punishment be ever so richly merited. He regrets the necessity—he mourns their fate.
Such regret and sorrow filled the mind of Noah, and prompted him to attempt something on behalf of his fellow creatures. The apostle Peter styles him 'a preacher of righteousness; and we may readily believe that so just and benevolent a man did not confine the revelation which had been made to him in his own breast, but freely published it on every side. The desire of saving some, at least, from the general ruin, led him to the plain and the city, and he was gratified could he but find attentive hearers whilst he spake the awful visitation which was coming upon them. He dwelt on their conduct, showed how generally and universally they had forsaken the God of their fathers, how hateful their sins were in his sight, and how signally and dreadfully he would manifest his power in their overthrow. Whatever may have been the means to which Noah resorted to rouse his brethren to a just sense of their situation, they appear to have been ineffectual. His remonstran
ces made no impression; and his representations of the coming judgment were, probably, thought to be only the wanderings of a diseased mind. They turned away from the zealous preacher; and it was in the day of Noah, as our Saviour observed, they did eat, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood destroyed them all.'
It would have been happiness to him to lead back the sinning in a repenting state to God, and to save them from destruction; but this happiness was denied him. Finding all his attempts fruitless, and exposing him to the neglect if not the scorn of his brethren, he began to prepare the vessel which was to carry him and his family in safety on the bosom of the waters, awaiting the moment when God should bring swift and total destruction upon the ungodly. Yet often as the work proceeded, did he renew the warning. He pointed to the advancing work with a mournful air, and told them that their fate was as much nearer to them as the ark approached to its completion. And when a stranger from a distant part came near and enquired why that immense vessel was preparing, the patriarch stayed his hand and spake of human wickedness, and described the woe which was hastening near, and besought him, if he would live and see his beloved ones live, to go home and repent with them, and teach others to repent. The stranger returned; but crime still defiled the face of the earth; still Noah was alone, the righteous one, the ark was finished the flood came.
Reflections on the foregoing History.
What a melancholy picture does this history display of human guilt! From the disobedience of Adam to the era of the deluge, there appears to have been a rapid increase of immorality and irreligion; every generation adding to the follies and crimes of the past, till there was nothing base or impious which had not been done. Neither chastity nor temperance, neither sobriety nor honesty, neither sincerity and fidelity to man, nor piety to God, then found friends. The historian has left us no enumeration of crimes; this is all he says—The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth also was filled with violence.' Its inhabitants surely, must have been sunk to the lowest depths of infamy, ere the Giver of life could determine by one awful judgment to sweep away the proud and rebellious, the impure, the unjust, and the violent, with his vast and whelming waters. Painful as this conviction may be, yet it is due to the justice of God to believe that his punishment, however exemplary, was proportionate to the crimes of those on whom it was inflicted. The justice of God, so the Scriptures persuade us, and so our own experience teaches us, is always attempered with mercy; and we are led, therefore, to believe, that even clemency could not pardon the sinners of the world before the flood. Their sins rose up to heaven and cried aloud for punishment; and only by ample retribution could the ends of the divine government, and the most important interests of mankind in succeeding ages, have been promoted. Had the Lord No. 2.-VOL. 1.
restrained his anger, and suffered his creatures still to follow their own inclinations without placing any impediment in their way, the probability is that they would have become, if possible, more abandoned, and every vestige of the dignity of human nature have been for ever obliterated, till not even a Noah could be found-one righteous person-worthy of being the second father of the human race.
The history teaches us, and it is a lesson which will be often impressed upon our minds, that under the government of a righteous God, punishment will fall upon the guilty. Whether individuals or nations sin, there is an eye ever attentive to their movements; there is an arm strong to impose the penalty of their crimes. Cain, the murderer, was driven from his home to wander a wretched vagabond. The guilty families of the earth were buried beneath the abyss of waters. Devouring fire laid waste the reigons of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many signal judgments befell the Israelites in different periods, till they were driven, like Cain, from the land of promise, to wander and find no resting place among the nations. And the many striking events of a calamitous nature with which the history of the world abounds, have answered the most important purposes, although the reasons of their infliction are concealed from us. Does not the Almighty make the follies and even the crimes of men subserve his
wise purposes? Does He not make their ambition and tyranny his instruments at once to punish and reform ? Can it be that the commotions which have agitated Europe
REFLECTIONS ON THE FOREGOING HISTORY. 39 even during our short life, the wars which have carried off so many thousands of mankind, and the great political changes which have taken place, have not been under the control and direction of the Governor of the universe?
As the government of God is universal, so it is equitable and benevolent; and although he finds it necessary to inflict heavy but not undeserved punishments on his creatures, their punishment is followed by salutary conse
Let us not close the subject without admiring once more the excellence of Noah's character. In the midst of a sinning world, he stood forward the intrepid friend of virtue, 'the preacher of righteousness.
ton's Poem :
Like the seraph in Mil
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his contant mind,
While he walked with God he suffered no thoughts of ease or danger to prevent him from giving a friendly, an earnest warning, to the men of iniquity and rapine. But it was useless. He earnestly wished to be the means of reforming them, and although their folly disappointed him, and deprived him of so great an honor, he still felt some consolation from the fulfilment of his duty. And he still